As we get mature, having a spouse will become one of our needs and priorities. It’s indeed the nature of human for Allah has said in Surah Adh-Dhariyat [51: 49] that He created all things in pairs.
But, finding a right person who will accompany us through our ups and downs, till the end of our lives, is not an easy way. There must be a lot of considerations and long processes to get through.
Islam as a perfect deen teaches us to have such journey in the correct path. By dating to know a person well? No, it’s a big no. Allah hates it because it’s close to zina. This correct path to get Allah’s ridha is called ta’aruf. A term we might have heard for many times.
Basically ta’aruf comes from the word ta’arafa – yata’arafu meaning introduction in general context. Introduction to any person, as Allah says in Surah Al-Hujurat [49: 13]:
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَٰكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
While in narrower context, it means an introduction between a man and a woman to know each other in detail as marriage is the main goal in this case. Therefore, those who are not serious and just want to have a trial is highly recommended not to do it.
When someone has an intention to do ta’aruf, the idea of finding a spouse and getting married must be on their mind at the same time. Even though ta’aruf doesn’t always end up in marriage. We could also read halal dating in Islam to make it easier for us to understand.
Al-Qur’an and hadits do not explain explicitly what ta’aruf is and its steps, still we can learn about it from the story of Rasulullah and Khadijah. Began with their cooperation in business, Khadijah felt interested to Rasulullah mainly because of his impressing trait.
She then delegated Maisarah, her male worker, to go to Syam together with Rasulullah. Khadijah wanted Maisarah to observe Rasulullah’s habit and personality, and told it to her.
Undoubtedly this story becomes the base of doing ta’aruf in Islam. In this case, it can be said that Khadijah initiates the ta’aruf. It’s not wrong, though, if women do such thing. But before you do it, you can first learn the ways women ask to be proposed according to Islam.
As mentioned before, there is no exact steps of ta’aruf. However, according to our scholars and some written references, it can be principally divined into 5 steps.
- Prepare Yourselves
Even we need preparation for simple things. Cooking or going to school, for example. This same rule is also needed in ta’aruf. We need to have a comprehensive understanding about it, so we know for sure what we are going to achieve (our orientation), and there will be no misconception or regret at the end. We can learn from any source; books, Youtube video or internet.
Nevertheless it will be much better if we learn directly from our Ustad to get valid information and understand the manners of knowledge seeker in Islam. Besides knowledge aspect, our interaction with Allah is also something necessary.
Don’t forget to always ask for His guidance to ease our effort and make us courageous for we do not know what we will face ahead. Improve the quality of fard ibadah and increase the quantity of sunnah.
- Choose the ‘Person’ and the Third Party
The person here of course means the one we want to do ta’aruf with, or we call here as potential spouse. It can be from our own choice (we choose them by ourselves) or the recommendation of people in our closest circles (family, friends). In this step, we haven’t known them a lot or do not know them at all (if we haven’t met them before).
However, one thing we need to make sure first is that they are religious persons. It is important, as religion is the foundation in our life. We need a partner to be better with and increase our love to Allah. After choosing this person, then we decide the third party who will be the mediator to deliver our intention of ta’aruf to our potential spouse.
We have to be careful and selective in choosing this third party. They must be reliable, objective, trustworthy and also know the rules of ta’aruf. We will need their help till the last step of ta’aruf.
- Exchanging Profile
If our potential spouse says ‘yes’ and agrees to do ta’aruf with us, we can move to the next step. Marriage is a ‘voyage’ of a lifetime, so we have to know our partner-to-be well. In ta’aruf, it’s done by exchanging profile. Unlike the one which we use to apply for a job, the profile here must be written in detail that can describe ourselves exactly.
For example, we can write our general profile (name, date of birth, address), physical description (height, weight, skin color), description of character (motto, passion), family background, vision in marriage and criteria of our future spouse. That’s just an example. We can add other descriptions which our potential spouse should know and attach our photograph.
The other way around, we also have the chance to read their profile and consider whether or not they meet our criteria. It must be underlined that we do not just rely on our own mind in making decision. We must ask for Allah’s guidance. One of the ways is by doing shalat istikharah.
Besides pray the dua after istikharah, you can also implement duas to read when you need something. With Allah’s help, if we are not sure with the person, we can just stop here. On the other hand, if we are interested and there is a kind of certainty in our heart, we can go to the next step.
In this step, we meet our potential spouse accompanied by mediators from both parties. The meeting should be held face-to-face, not using any kind of technology like video call.
Why? Because communication through technology devices is limited and can be manipulated. There is a hadits related to nadzhar narrated by Bakr bin Abdullah Al-Muzani.
حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مَنِيعٍ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي زَائِدَةَ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عَاصِمُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ، هُوَ الأَحْوَلُ عَنْ بَكْرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْمُزَنِيِّ، عَنِ الْمُغِيرَةِ بْنِ شُعْبَةَ، أَنَّهُ خَطَبَ امْرَأَةً فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” انْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا فَإِنَّهُ أَحْرَى أَنْ يُؤْدَمَ بَيْنَكُمَا ” . وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مَسْلَمَةَ وَجَابِرٍ وَأَنَسٍ وَأَبِي حُمَيْدٍ وَأَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ . وَقَدْ ذَهَبَ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ إِلَى هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ وَقَالُوا لاَ بَأْسَ أَنْ يَنْظُرَ إِلَيْهَا مَا لَمْ يَرَ مِنْهَا مُحَرَّمًا . وَهُوَ قَوْلُ أَحْمَدَ وَإِسْحَاقَ . وَمَعْنَى قَوْلِهِ ” أَحْرَى أَنْ يُؤْدَمَ بَيْنَكُمَا ” قَالَ أَحْرَى أَنْ تَدُومَ الْمَوَدَّةُ بَيْنَكُمَا
“It was narrated that Al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah said: ‘I proposed marriage to a woman during the time of the Messenger of Allah, and the Prophet said: ‘Have you seen her?’ I said: ‘No.’ He said: ‘Look at her, for that is more likely to create love between you.’” (Jami’ at-Tirmidhi)
Here, we can observe their attitude, but still implementing syariah by lower our gaze. If there is something unwritten in CV we want to know, we can ask it in this step. This is the step to find out anything about them deeper, and also the last step before deciding to really choose them as our future spouse or not.
So, don’t make ourselves lose this chance. After nadzhar, we will have some times to consider and think thoroughly. During this time, again, do shalat isikharah. It’s one of the crucial decisions in our lives. We need Allah to help us decide the right decision, choose the right choice. As in the last step, if we are not sure, we can stop this ta’aruf. Otherwise, it means there’s one step left before marriage.
So, here we are. After such steps of ta’aruf, we come to the last. Rasulullah has given advice about khitbah as mentioned in Jami’ at-Tirmidhi,
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَمْرٍو السَّوَّاقُ الْبَلْخِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا حَاتِمُ بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُسْلِمِ بْنِ هُرْمُزَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ، وَسَعِيدٍ، ابْنَىْ عُبَيْدٍ عَنْ أَبِي حَاتِمٍ الْمُزَنِيِّ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” إِذَا جَاءَكُمْ مَنْ تَرْضَوْنَ دِينَهُ وَخُلُقَهُ فَأَنْكِحُوهُ إِلاَّ تَفْعَلُوا تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ ” . قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِيهِ قَالَ ” إِذَا جَاءَكُمْ مَنْ تَرْضَوْنَ دِينَهُ وَخُلُقَهُ فَأَنْكِحُوهُ ” . ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ . وَأَبُو حَاتِمٍ الْمُزَنِيُّ لَهُ صُحْبَةٌ وَلاَ نَعْرِفُ لَهُ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم غَيْرَ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ
“Abu Hatim Al-Muzani narrated that The Messenger of Allah said: ‘When someone whose religion and character you are pleased with comes to you then marry (her to) him. If you do not do so, then there will be turmoil (fitnah) in the land and discord (fasad).’”
The man, along with his family, comes to the woman’s house to tell his great intention of marrying her. Both of the families meet and get to know each other. Because a marriage is not only about bonding between the man and the woman, but also between the two families.
And, finally, the wedding day is arranged. While waiting for this wonderful day, always make du’a there is no obstacle till the D-Day and implement duas to strengthen marriage.
It indeed seems that ta’aruf requires good preparation, energy, time, and certainly patience. But, we need not to worry, for what we will get is far better than what we have sacrificed.
Even if our ta’aruf cannot be continued to the further step. We do it with the rules of Islam, so there is no chance to get any disadvantage, no matter the result Allah gives to us.